The Heat Wave Is Finally Over

I’m thankful that the heat wave is finally over—at least, in my part of California—now that it decided to leave the state to torment the Midwest. Nothing worse than getting up in the morning to look like you just got done at the gym with a sweaty workout, your deodorant committing suicide before you put it on and your cologne desperately wants to go on a pig. It was that bad.

The only break I got last week was seeing the Michael McDonald and Steely Dan concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, where the cold breeze from the nearby San Francisco bay cooled things down. Since the last few days were cooler than normal, I’m now sick with the cold. My ability to suffer in so many ways has been unrelenting this summer.

Weird things can happen during a heat wave.

I saw a help desk ticket at work come through for a broken sprinkler head next to an outside entrance that was attracting a swarm of hornets. My co-workers and I debated on whether to send a technician can of a can of Raid or a laptop with the latest anti-virus definitions to remove the bugs from the big blue room with the yellow light. Anyway, facilities got the ticket and called the plumber to deal with the hornets. No sense in exposing a PC technician to the big blue room without sunglasses when it’s not air-conditioned.

Michael McDonald & Steely Dan Concert

I went to my first concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View to hear Michael McDonald and Steely Dan, with a surprise guest appearance by Bonnie Raitt for one song. McDonald open the concert with the comment that he prefers Northern California since it’s “a little bit grayer” as the band has been playing for the last 35 years. I’m surprised by how much of the music I recognized. I grew up in the 1970’s listening to the two radio stations allowed in my father’s truck—country and talk—and my brother moved out while I was still young to influence me with rock and roll music.

The Neighborhood Power Transformer Went Kablooey

This morning was interesting for being more than too hot. I woke up to a loud “ka-POP” noise at 6:30AM. It sounded like a left over firecracker from Fourth of July. The filter in my 25-gallon fish tank started gurgling. The three UPSes for my computers sounded a three-alarm beep that the power was out. Trying to sleep through that racket and the heat was not possible. The overhead lights had power but there wasn’t enough juice for anything else plugged into the wall sockets.

After checking the circuit breakers and turning everything off, I took a cold shower in the dark and went to the gym. The other buildings in my apartment complex didn’t fare any better. Some emergency lights had power at full brightness, some were flickering on battery power, and a few had no power at all. When I got back 90 minutes later, the electric company was checking out the ground-level power transformer at the end of my apartment building.

The electricity returned to normal after a while. I had to reset the power strip on my 10-gallon fish tank, power-cycled the network switches, and the computers came back up without any problem. If a power transformer blew up on the street, I don’t know where. Last year, at a different apartment complex, a nearby power transformer blew up and the neighbors saw blue flames shooting up and down the lines. Summer is here now.

Playing F.E.A.R. This Weekend

I played F.E.A.R. this weekend. This unconventional horror-themed first person shooter from Monolith was one hell of a  scary game. The scares doesn’t come from monsters jumping out of the closets like they do in Doom 3, but from the monsters jumping before your mind’s eye. Now that’s scary.

Your screen briefly flashes the words “Unknown Activity” and then blurs as the ceiling tiles fall down, the paint on the wall peels back, and bloody footprints appear on the floor before everything returns to normal. Or the corridor appears normal until flames goes up behind the little girl who wants to burn you to death before your character jumps out the window into unconsciousness.

What is it about little girls having bad hair days that scare the crap out of everyone?

While the level design wasn’t too exciting, the game play was amazing. The first time that I did a slo-mo run-jump-kick that broke a soldier’s neck with a satisfying crunch made my day. New ways of killing your enemies are always exciting. So far, it’s a great game.


Titanic – The Exhibition

I saw “Titanic — The Exhibition” at the Metreon in San Francisco. A detailed model of the Titanic sat outside the exhibit area. Another model inside showed the Titanic as a rusted hulk buried on the ocean floor. Three-hundred items were on display that captured life as it was in 1912. Also reproduced were the passenger quarters, a hallway, a cafe and the grand staircase. You can touch the simulated frozen iceberg to feel how cold the real iceberg was when it hit the Titanic. The “Big Piece” near the end of the exhibit was a huge 15-ton section of the hull that came from the 11-story-tall ship.

I learned of several trivia facts that I didn’t know about this disaster.

  • The Titanic had three million rivets whereas the Golden Gate Bridge has 1.2 million rivets.
  • The captain ordered the band to keep on playing to keep people calm as they evacuated the ship. None of the band members survived. Musicians from San Francisco took up a large collection for the families of the band.
  • The sinking of the Titanic was the first event covered by the international media as reports got sent out over telegraph and wireless (early radio).

For all the fascination with an event that happened almost a century ago, you still can’t escape the fact that 1,500 people died, the stories of people sacrificing themselves to save others, or the captain’s haunting last words: “Every man for himself.”

The International Space Station Flyby At The Movies

Saw “Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead’s Man Chest” on Friday night. The movie had an interesting twist on the Davy Jones’ Locker myth. But the real highlight was standing in line outside the theater at 9:15PM to see the International Space Station (ISS) swing by overhead. A very bright dot that moved very fast as it made a right at Jupiter and then a left at the Moon. The people in line weren’t even aware that the ISS in orbit or the Space Shuttle Discovery gone up on Fourth of July.

I told them that the police helicopter patrolling nearby was a UFO when we had several “close encounters” when the searchlight swept the parking lot. The police should have gone after the idiots who insisted on driving their fancy sports car through the long line of people in search of a non-existent parking near the theater.

A Sleepless Fourth of July

I didn’t get much sleep last night with the Fourth of July celebrations going on in the neighborhood. I live two miles away from the fireworks show in downtown San Jose, where the loud air cannons thumped fireworks into the air. After the fireworks show was over at 10:00PM, the neighborhood kids—and some adults who haven’t grown up—got into the act by exploding their own illegal stash of fireworks until midnight. No fireworks celebration would be complete without tossing firecrackers into every dumpster in the apartment complex. I never did like fireworks.